Out-of-print in the US! DARK SIDE OF THE SPOON opens with Al Jourgensen screaming "I just shot a man to death" over grinding guitar riffs and an unrelenting, martial beat. Clearly, these godfathers of industrial rock show no signs of mellowing as they near their third decade of sonic terrorism. Longtime fans can rest easy, there are no attempts at mainstream crossover here--no string sections or sentimental ballads. True to form, Ministry delivers cut after cut of manic alienation. The savage, repetitive guitar patterns consolidate hard rock, punk and heavy metal into a new, uncompromising paradigm. Jourgensen revels in his angst, using it as a cathartic tool of expression. His tortured, filtered vocals bespeak a lifetime spent observing mankind's most heinous atrocities, but his knack for studio manipulation and sonic architecture makes the whole thing quite palatable, if not accessible.
To hear longtime Ministry mainstays Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker tell it, Dark Side of the Spoon
is some sort of lighthearted comic romp. Getting there was anything but; virtually completed in 1997, most of the original Spoon
was scrapped and rerecorded the following year for an eventual 1999 release. But longtime Ministry devotees needn't worry that Jourgensen and Barker have traded in the band's formulaic hard-edged mix of heavy-riffing guitars, percussion loops, and techno-industrial flourishes for a dash of Noël Coward
. In fact, aside from the song titles--"Nursing Home," "Eureka Pile," "Vex and Siolence"--listeners without a lyric sheet handy are going to be hard-pressed to enjoy the witticisms present in the album's typically overwrought, electronically subverted vocals. And who knows? Maybe if one sang Gilbert and Sullivan through a distorted megaphone in an echo-prone parking structure, it would sound just like this. Allow us the liberty of mixing our equestrian metaphors: Spoon
only proves how tough it is to paint a horse of a different color when you're a one-trick pony. --Jerry McCulley